Financial Tips and Tools

Opening a Bank Account
If your neighborhood association accumulates money, you may want to open a bank account. An account can be opened by either a person or a corporation.

Tax Identification Number
To open an account, you must first obtain a Tax Identification Number. A tax identification number is a federal tax number that is filed with the IRS.

To receive a tax identification number follow these steps:
  1. Pick up form SS-4 (Application for Employer Identification Number) at the Internal Revenue Service Office. Forms also can be obtained from the Corporate Communications Department.
  2. Complete the form.
  3. Call the IRS office in Austin, Texas at 512-460-7843 to receive the identification number by phone.
  4. Place the number provided in the area titled EIN.
  5. Mail the completed form to the Internal Revenue Service in Austin, Texas.

Note: You can begin using the number immediately if this process is followed.

Steps to Opening an Account
Other guidelines for opening a bank account, (this may not include all necessary steps to open an account):
  • Identification, such as a driver's license, credit card or passport, is required to open any type of account.
  • Along with your tax ID number, you will need other papers providing the legitimacy of your organization.
  • If you are not a registered corporation, you must apply for an assumed business name.
  • You must bring a copy of your bylaws or minutes of your first meeting if you are not a corporation or do not have nonprofit status. You must also state the names and titles of people who can conduct business for the organization.
  • If you are a nonprofit corporation, you must bring the corporate resolution form, sealed by the state, proving nonprofit status.
  • Not all nonprofit organizations will receive a waiver of service charges. The bank waives service charges to organizations that provide a necessary public service. The decision to waive the charge is at the discretion of the individual bank. If you are not a nonprofit business, there is no waiver of service charge.
  • Signature cards must be signed by the current secretary of the neighborhood association along with anyone else who will be signing on the bank account.

Fundraising may be needed for any of the following:
  • Prizes at meetings
  • Refreshments for meetings
  • Supplies for a neighborhood beautification project
  • Printing a newsletter
  • Consider what types of goods, services and funds your neighborhood association will need to accomplish its goals.

  • Pass the hat - Postage neighborhood associations are encouraged to charge no fees or only voluntary fees for membership. It is a good idea, however, to "pass the hat" at neighborhood meetings. Just a dollar from some of the participants begins to add up.
  • Special donations - For one-time projects, leaders might ask members for a special donation.
  • Garage sales - Ask neighbors to hold a garage sale on a certain day.
  • Bake sales - Find a public space with lots of hungry people. Some grocery stores may let you set up a bake sale on their parking lot.
  • Yard flamingos - Collect a large number of plastic pink flamingos and sell to your neighbor for the chance to play a joke on a friend or neighbor. For $10, your team will decorate someone's yard with the birds. You also can sell flamingo insurance. For $10, you can promise not to decorate the yard.
  • Colored sand - Fundraising that appeals to children will often be successful. The colored sand project allows youngsters to make their own bottle of colored sand. Add nontoxic dyes to white refined sand. Collect baby food bottles and let the kids go to work making art. Charge $2-$5 for each child.
  • Holiday home tours - Capitalize on the hospitality of your neighbors. Ask six or seven neighbors to host an open house. Sell tickets to the event. Provide a map and information about each home to party-goers. Encourage people to take a walking tour of the neighborhood visiting homes, sampling goodies, and enjoying fellowship. Ask the children to set up lemonade or hot chocolate stands along the path.
  • Sell your labor - Ask neighbors for a list of chores such as washing the car, raking leaves or weeding the flowerbeds that they are willing to pay to have done. Find volunteers to complete these projects.
  • Neighborhood art sale - Many of your neighbors create crafts, sew or paint. Ask people to donate their art to be sold, or conduct an art contest for neighborhood youth.
  • Sell advertising - Your neighborhood is a ready-made market for local advertisers. Agree to sell advertising in your neighborhood newsletter.
  • Other ideas - Other ideas to consider are Valentine candy grams, Mother's Day muffin baskets, flower arrangements, car washes, or a raffle.

In-Kind Contributions

Instead of money, many stores or companies may be willing to donate something that they sell. For business owners, in-kind donations usually are easier to donate than cash. Consider asking a business to let their employees volunteer their time and skills to help your team. In-kind contributions can be used in the following ways:
  • Auction items
  • Copies
  • Graphic design
  • Prizes
  • Refreshments
  • Supplies for a project

Don't forget about local churches when considering in-kind donations. They will often provide meeting space. They also have access to computers, paper and copiers.

To make a request from a business, write a letter to the company on association letterhead. Include your employer identification number and a description of how the donation will be used. After the project, be sure to thank the donor in writing.